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Entering the ring

If there’s one subject I never get tired of talking about, it’s professional wrestling. Unfortunately, I don’t always have a lot of people to discuss it with. Yes, some of my friends are wrestling fans, but most are not as hardcore as I am. And my wife will listen politely, nod her head and utter the occasional “that’s interesting,” but I know she really doesn’t care when I tell her that Shawn Michaels and John Cena had an awesome match on Monday Night Raw.

That’s why I am excited about joining baltimoresun.com’s online community as the resident pro wrestling blogger. Now whenever I have a thought about wrestling or something noteworthy happens in the squared circle – or behind the curtain, for that matter — I have a forum to express my views and, hopefully, exchange comments and opinions will fellow wrestling fans.

For the debut of Ring Posts, I figured I should let you know what to expect from this blog and also tell you a little bit about my background as it pertains to wrestling.

One thing I want to make clear is that this is a blog solely about professional wrestling. I know the trend these days is to combine coverage of pro wrestling with Mixed Martial Arts, but that will not be the case here. I am neither a fan nor a knowledgeable observer of MMA. Plus, baltimoresun.com already has a blog devoted to MMA.

In Ring Posts, I will comment on the goings-on in WWE and TNA and even the local scene in Maryland. My take on wrestling television shows, pay-per-views and the latest news will be honest and analytical. Certainly, there are things to criticize in wrestling (most of the Cryme Tyme skits come to mind), but I will not be critical just for the sake of being critical or trying to be funny, which often seems to be the case on many wrestling Web sites.

With those disclaimers out of the way, I’ll move on to my personal wrestling history. I fell in love with wrestling the first time I saw it on Channel 45 as a pre-schooler in the early 1970s. Of course, at the time, I believed what I was witnessing in the rings of the World Wide Wrestling Federation was actual athletic competition, just like major league baseball or the NFL except with larger-than-life characters.

I attended my first live wrestling event on Dec. 26, 1973, at the Baltimore Civic Center. The main event pitted Andre The Giant against Stan “The Man” Stasiak. I think because he had the coolest sideburns this side of Elvis Presley, Stasiak was my favorite wrestler, even though he was a heel — or a bad guy, as we called them then. In fact, most of my favorite wrestlers throughout my childhood were heels — the Valiant Brothers, Superstar Billy Graham, Larry Zbyszko, Greg Valentine, Magnificent Muraco, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, etc.

After seeing my first live show, I was hooked for life. The WWWF made monthly stops in Baltimore at that time, and I was there month after month, year after year. Over the next 34 years, I have rarely missed a wrestling event at the Baltimore Civic Center/Baltimore Arena/1st Mariner Arena (yes, was at the Smackdown/ECW show on Tuesday. I will post my comments on the show shortly).

It didn’t take me long — I think I was 8 or 9 – to figure out wrestling was a work, but it didn’t matter. I have always appreciated wrestling for being a unique brand of entertainment — part athletic event, part soap opera. I appreciated the showmanship and the drama – even if it was “scripted.”

While other kids were reading Dr. Seuss books, I was reading Inside Wrestling and The Wrestler. Through those magazines, I learned that there was more wrestling — a lot more — than just the WWWF. There were territories all over the country, and I became familiar with guys like Nick Bockwinkel, Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel, even though I would not see them wrestle on television until years later. That knowledge separated me from a lot of my friends, who were casual wrestling fans and not as obsessed as I was (am).

As I got older, I became more and more “smart” to how the business worked. In the 1990s, I began subscribing to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the bible for insider fans.

Eventually, my decision to pursue journalism as a career and my passion for pro wrestling resulted in me becoming The Sun’s unofficial pro wrestling writer – mainly because no one else cared to write about it. After writing numerous stories on high school and college sports (among other things) for The Sun, I wrote my first pro wrestling story for the paper – a feature on “Macho Man” Randy Savage, centering on his background in minor-league baseball in 1994.

I have been writing semi-regularly on wrestling for The Sun ever since, and have interviewed nearly every major figure in the business — including Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair, Triple H, John Cena and many others. I also hosted a pro wrestling talk show on the radio in the late ’90s.

In 2000, WCW offered me a job as the editor of the company magazine. So, after 14 years at The Sun and a lifetime in Baltimore, I packed my bags and headed to Atlanta. I worked for WCW for exactly one year — until WWE purchased what was left of the company, and I, like most of the office employees, was let go.

I was fortunate enough to eventually return to The Sun and get my old job back – including writing about wrestling. One of my biggest thrills was writing a first-person story for The Sun about being given a crash course on how to take basic bumps by local wrestler Pat Brink of Maryland Championship Wrestling, and then working as a manager and getting laid out by Crowbar on an MCW show in Dundalk.

All of that has led me here — to Ring Posts.

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